God has let our church continue for 23 years, and so on this anniversary Lord’s Day let us pray that God will continue to use our church for His work on earth. This message is about the fact that Zerubbabel’s temple did not have the ark of the covenant. Since the Tabernacle, this was the first temple which did not have the ark. Zerubbabel’s temple was built by the returnees who left Babylon. In Revelation 18, God calls His people to come out of Babylon. And so these returnees who left Babylon to rebuild Zerubbabel’s temple foreshadow us, the saints of the end time, who need to rebuild God’s temple in the last days. The fact that Zerubbabel’s temple did not have the ark of the covenant, therefore, bears great significance for us.
Evidence that Zerubbabel’s Temple did not have the Ark of the Covenant
The bible always focuses on the ark of the covenant whenever the temple of God is the topic. The ark was part of the grand finale which took centre stage in the temple. It represented the very presence of God. However, the ark falls into obscurity after Solomon’s temple.
The following things were not included in Zerubbabel’s temple:
1. The ark of the covenant,
2. The stone tablets
3. The golden altar
4. Aaron’s budded staff
5. Urim and Thummim
6. The eternal fire
The lack of these items in the temple was like having a cheeseburger without cheese. It seems like the main point of the temple was missing. The arch of Titus contained an engraved depiction of what General Titus destroyed in Herod’s temple. The engraving included the lamps and the table of the bread of the presence, amongst other things, but did not contain the ark of the covenant. We know that Herod’s temple was Zerubbabel’s temple that had been remodelled and renovated, but it shows us that the ark was not there.
How long had the ark of the covenant been missing? It was last seen in Solomon’s temple, but it doesn’t show up in the record of the things which the Babylonian army had taken from the temple (2 Kings 25:9, 13-17). The ark of the covenant was a box covered with gold, which the Babylonians surely would have taken. However, the fact that it wasn’t included in the list of items means that the ark had already been lost before the fall of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah’s prophecy about the Ark of the Covenant
Jeremiah 3:15 tells us that God will give shepherds after His own heart, who would feed the people on knowledge and understanding. Who are these shepherds? They are probably the prophets whom God sent to His people. However, these shepherds also foreshadow Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus said in John 10:14 that He is the shepherd. Jeremiah 3:16 talks about the land in which the people of God will be fruitful and multiply. This reminds us of God’s commission to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, to be fruitful and multiply. When the Messiah comes, He will restore the people back to the garden of Eden.
Jeremiah also says in Jeremiah 3:16 that there are five negatives concerning the ark of the covenant. They wouldn’t talk about it anymore, nor will it come to mind, be remembered, or missed, and it will not be made again. We can think of this in the same way we think of the PSLE exam. There will come a time when our children do not need to think of PSLE anymore. When is that time? It is when they graduate from primary school. The Israelites would no longer think of the ark of the covenant once they graduated from their stage of faith. The Israelites thought of the ark of the covenant as a talisman or lucky charm. When they were losing a battle, they would bring the ark, thinking it would bring them victory. What about us today? Do we have this kind of mentality?
The Samaritan woman asked Jesus about the proper location for worship, but Jesus told her that it wasn’t a specific mountain, but that true worshipper will worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23). Once we have the New Jerusalem, these things like the ark of the covenant will no longer come to mind (Isaiah 65:17). By lacking the ark of the covenant, Zerubbabel’s temple prepared the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah. All sacrifices now must be centred on the Messiah, and no longer on a physical object and things. May our church be the throne of God, and may God come upon us.
Conclusion: The absence of the Ark of the Covenant in Zerubbabel’s temple caused the people to seek more earnestly for the coming of the Messiah
We need to earnestly seek and long for the coming of the Lord. After the ark of the covenant was lost, God promised a new covenant. This new covenant promises us complete forgiveness (Jeremiah 31:32). There is a promise that all will know God, from the least to the greatest (Jeremiah 31:34). And finally, God promises that He will put His Word in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).
People who put their value on the physical and material things usually peak in their lives at around 22-24 years old. People who put their value in the invisible Word of God, however, peak at their old age. They overtake those who value physical things past the age of 40, and it’s all uphill from there. Zion church, therefore, has hope because we value the Word of God, and God’s Holy Spirit carries us.